# Monday, August 06, 2007

Recently I got an email, sent to a largish list of semi-anonymous people (the sender knows us all, but we don't know each other and aren't a "community"), asking "can you give me some advice about why I don't have a job yet?". Having now received several more requests and questions from this same person, it's pretty clear to me that the answer is "because you really need a job right now." The sad truth is, you can't get a job when you NEED a job. The most desirable candidates are the ones who can pick and choose, and who are coming to an employer because that employer is their very best fit. The least desirable candidates are the ones who might not enjoy the work or have career plans that involve that employer for decades or even years, but have a rent payment due so they have to take SOMETHING and this is the only thing going.

This little irony or paradox is not confined to job hunting. Say you want to borrow some money because you lost your job, your SO left you and you have to pay all the rent by yourself, and your car broke. You  NEED the money, and not a bank in the world will lend it to you. But if you just finished high school, have no income other than the student loans you expect to receive, and no plans to work within the next few years, you can have an unsecured credit card. You don't need the money, and that's what makes it safe to lend it to you. Here's a tip for young people: when you first get a job, and have a nice income, but no mortgage or other payments, borrow 5 or 10 thousand dollars. Put it in a savings account, make the payments like clockwork using the money from the savings account, and you will have a lovely credit rating, because you borrowed money and paid it back. Better still, put it in your retirement savings and make the payments out of your income -- you'll get a lovely credit rating and a lump of retirement savings that can compound for the next 40 years. It's not just money that follows the "it's better not to need it" rules -- most of us learned in high school that lonely people make very few friends and go on very few dates, but the popular people get invited to everything and never sit alone.

The only way around the paradox is to act less needy than you feel. The simplest rule to describe this is "give before you take." Before you ask someone for something, give them something - typically information. In many cases, you can give them "I am a terrific candidate for your job". Just changing your attitude from "please please I need you to give me this" to "you are lucky today because I am just what you need" makes a huge difference. I blogged about that over three years ago, with some specific advice about knowing what you want.

Give before you take can extend into so much else as well. Do you call people and say "what are you doing tomorrow?" That makes me really uncomfortable. I am always doing SOMETHING - even lying around on the couch and watching TV - and if I say "nothing" then I may have accepted an invitation sight-unseen. So before you take information about my plans, give me information about why you're asking. "I've got a spare Jays ticket for tomorrow, would you like to come?" or "I have to move on short notice and I need friends to help load the van" or "I'm by the side of the road and need someone to come and get me" work fine all by themselves without the dance of "are you doing anything right now / tomorrow night / this weekend ?" preceding them. Sales guys call me up and say things like "so, does your company accept credit cards?" and while it's not a secret or anything (we do) it rankles me that they want that information but I don't know why I should give it to them. I'd be way happier with "I represent a credit card processing company, and we <whatever they do.> We can save you money if you already take credit cards, or get you set up if you don't. Do you accept credit cards already?"

I try to give before I take in everything I do. Before I ask a new client for a deposit or a commitment, I give them a proposal. Before I ask questions of the candidate in a job interview, I tell them a little about us. I do good deeds where I can and rarely ask for favours. On mailing lists, forums, newsgroups, or active blog comment threads, I answer other people's questions before I ask one of my own. And I blog, which is a form of giving information to many many people at once. Some day I may ask you a question, and if you read my blog you'll remember that I gave before I asked.


Monday, August 06, 2007 5:24:41 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [6]
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 8:54:36 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
By "you can't get a job when you need a job", I may misunderstand to think that the employers deliberately are trying out a mind-boggling game, I just think it is a model of bosses that is to be eliminated, not an example to follow person to person, generation to generation. This point turns me naive because this is what North American people are carrying out in their developed society. With that, i also mean the employees are slaves instead, but the word 'slave' is not generously used to indicate the reality.
"Give before you can take" is there I suppose to be the meaning of "trust" or non-trust. Please give me some moments.
I once were at the airport to leave the country where I was told to pay $150 for an overweight of the luggage I was carrying, and I had no single penny in my pocket. They asked if I had a credit card.

"Yes I do, but it is invalid since I leave the country today and I already called credit card company to stop using it 2 months ago.", I told the officer.

"Please wait for a minute, I will draw the money for you", the officer said, then she ran into the room to use my card. She came back in a surprise.

"Your card is out of date", she said to me suspiciously and then called the card company to clearify.

And on the phone she wanted me to talk to the company about the card, I restated how she suspected "as she wanted to check my card" whereas the lady on the phone from the card company talked as if I were trying to cheat them with a useless card, thinking I was b-llsheeting them. Right at that point in time when they were suspecting me so, the old guy who drove me to the airport suddenly appeared behind me and listened to the problem incompletely and certainly judged me ridiculously. I finally left one suitcase of clothes for the old man.
Whose mistake was it ? It was my fault to still have left the invalid card in my wallet. I didn't pay attention to throw it away before and let officer check my wallet

That's about the credit card problem.
Besides, when I was leaving, I didn't have enough money to bring everything home, I still left 10 packages of computers, miniprinter, and all the books (science and computer galathaea and others 'lured' me to buy). I got back only 6 but only useless things.

I was sad a little but not really sad in a long time. All of them can be bought again if I have money in the future.
But the worst thing is two of my graduation certificates are in one of those packages! I emailed the school in late July for the certificate evidence and they sent me several of them on 3 August, I didn't mention the graduation certificates in the packages though.

You see how stupid I am now!

I am just completely confused as I don't know what the difference it will make via your title "Give before you can take" between current situation and the previous one when I was still there. If only I had sucked upto them as some hadn't been kind to me to lead my life on and on without having spent time on places where my presence is not actually welcome.

I know who I am, it'll be bad if some tell me that but they didn't and don't, you are among them.

Kerrie McConaughey
Saturday, August 18, 2007 6:17:49 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
> And I blog, which is a form of giving information to many many people at once.

How interesting that sounds!
I wouldnot bother for any second to think upon an idea of using blogs made up with different page designs to convey information. I truly can't express how desirable I am to look for another style of web reading beside the forum message boards, I would come to read yours daily if you have more to tell.
Lately I have also been interested in mobile, I don't know if you could also show us your magic on it. I would appreaciate any information, knowledge you give. (I personally come read quite often)

By the way, Ms Gregory, good luck on your coming presentation
Davis Broome
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 9:06:37 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I don't know why that's supposed to be different ?


My first job interview would be tomorrow in Vietquoc at 10:30am as I was called this afternoon
Trang Lien Huong
Sunday, October 14, 2007 5:28:35 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
I used to have an interview the first time and I am happy to tell you that I could finish it gracefully with a big win about the skill related problems..this is important. My confidence over my skills for the next possible confrontation to most of local companies grows more positive.
But at the same time I realise also that I need to think of their unrelated questions over the skills I have not written in the CV when the talks expanded further unexpectedly but purposedly, I believe... hehe anyway the win still belongs to lucky me
On the way home that day, I just kept smiling because I realise I too have a tongue, magics learnt really soaked in overtime. Magics rule as always!
Thanks a bunchy
Truong Hung
Thursday, January 03, 2008 11:09:58 AM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
You are perfectly right here, good points and a good approach. It's true, not many people love the job interview, many of them are quite stressed out and many of them play their last "card" and I think human resources departments need to be aware of that and accurately appreciate all candidates.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 11:10:45 PM (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00)
I recently came across a similar problem when I moved to Australia. Since I'm new to the country I can't seem to get any credit even though I have a considerable amount of savings in the bank.

Yet they'll give credit cards & loans to students who have no means to pay it back.
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